“I really liked it. (It was) just a relaxed day,” said Mondon, who’s ranked the No. 31 overall prospect and No. 2 outside linebacker in the industry-generated 247Sports Composite for the 2021 class. “I like it here.” The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Mondon said he decided to visit Tennessee because of “just my relationship with” tight ends coach Brian Niedermeyer, who already has been in frequent contact with Mondon over the past several months. “For a while now, he’s been trying to get me up here,” Mondon said of Niedermeyer.
Mondon said Saturday’s visit allowed him to spend time with Niedermeyer, along with Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt, first-year defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley and inside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer. “Coach Pruitt was talking about my versatility, that I could play inside or outside linebacker,” Mondon said. “Just anywhere on defense, I’m good,” Mondon said.
Tennessee is intriguing to him, he said, because of his “relationship with the coaches,” led by Niedermeyer. “Talking with the coaches, I feel like it’s more than just football,” said Mondon, who also holds early offers from Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Michigan, Ohio State, South Carolina and Texas A&M, among others. “I can, like, rely on them.”
Mondon said he’s hoping to return to Tennessee as early as this season. And while he said he has “no leaders” right now, he told 247Sports’ Anna Hickey last month that the Vols were one of a handful of teams that already had developed strong relationships with him, along with Clemson, Auburn, Alabama and Georgia.
“Well, really, every school is equal right now. It’s, like, no leaders in the front,” Mondon said. “But I’ll try to come back here (to Tennessee). If not a game, then I’ll come back for a visit after the season, sometime in the winter.”
Derrick Ansley spent Thursday in Atlanta visiting Newton, Woodstock and North Gwinnett. He also checked in on Zavier Carter at Hopewell Charter, Smael Mondon of Paulding County and Nathaniel Wiggins of Westlake. Ansley also continues to work Memphis in what could be a new area for him going forward.
For the third time in the past calendar year, Smael Mondon made a trip to Rocky Top. “It was good trip. It was quick as I came in Sunday and left Sunday. But it was good,” the Dallas, Ga. native said. “I met with the coaches, toured the facilities again and learned more about the school and the academics.” “It was just me and a few others on Sunday. It was pretty cool,” the four-star said. “I hope to be back for a spring practice and in the summer sometime.”
“I don’t really have a timetable for cutting the list down right now. I’m really just trying to take as many visits as I can to see what programs I like,” Mondon said. “There’s been a couple of schools constantly in communication like Tennessee, Georgia, Auburn, Florida, Alabama, Oklahoma and Ohio State - just to name a few.” “Coach [Brian] Niedermeyer has been my primary recruiter. I talk with him and coach [Derrick] Ansley the most,” Mondon said. “I can really tell coach [Jeremy] Pruitt loves having kids on campus and getting to know them. He said he wanted to be a coach so he could help develop kids.”
The Vols see Mondon on the inside. “It doesn’t really matter which one I play – it’s all about the fit,” Mondon said. “I can play both. I’ve played inside the past two years at my high school but am moving outside next year.”